Thursday, June 24, 2010

hither and yon!

Just a quick note to say that INTERN has been summoned to England very abruptly and will attending to Important Matters in the Mother Country until mid-July. Specifically, INTERN is going to Penzance (yes, as in the Pirates of Penzance...tra-la-la!)

INTERN will try to update a few times from abroad, perhaps to report on The State of Publishing in Great Britain or maybe just to complain about her books getting rained on while waiting for one of those double decker buses.

Long story short, INTERN requires three things from you, knowledgeable readers:

1. Tell INTERN which book she absolutely must read on the plane. INTERN only has about forty-six hours to figure this out, and it is a matter of CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE!

2. Alert INTERN to any amazing bookstores she absolutely must visit in Penzance and/or Saint Ives.

3. Alert INTERN to any mysterious old hermit writers living in Penzance and/or Saint Ives who might be interested in having a cup of tea with INTERN. Pirate writers especially wanted.

Off to pack!!!


  1. Have you read The Book Thief already?
    How about Travels With Charley, by John Steinbeck? It's a great travel novel, and not the typical Steinbeck. You could probably finish it very quickly.

  2. Nick Hornby's JULIET, NAKED, if you haven't read it yet. It is EXCELLENT. Or any of his books. All are fantastic. Also, I am JEALOUS of your trip! Enjoy it!

  3. If you haven't yet read Scottish author Iain M Banks "Use of Weapons" it is well worth the read.

  4. You should read Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse, if you haven't already; she says it's set on the isle of Skye, but she spent loads of her hols in Cornwall, so the landscape feels exactly like that wonderful place. Dreamy and beautiful. I did a teensy bit of my PhD on this one (plus spent my hols in cornwall too!)

    Oooh or some Daphne Du Maurier - Jamaica Inn, set on Bodmin Moor (the place itself, the Jamaica Inn exists but is a bit out of the way from Penzance - small museum, a total tackfest: victorian squirrely taxidermy ahoy!)

    Please also go to the Tate Gallery in St Ives - there is a huuuuge art scene there, thanks to the gorgeous light. Take tonnes of pictures if you can! Eat scones with clotted cream and jam.

    Sorry, I don't know of any living authors to go and bother, except the telly-chef Rick Stein, who lives in Padstow.

    Soooo jealous...

  5. #1 - Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce. It's YA and amazing. It's a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood except with werewolves and kick ass heroines.

  6. St. Ives is one of my favorite places ever! I don't recall any bookstores, though. Lots of cool art shops and galleries.

  7. I vote for Feed by Mira Grant on the plane (bloggers plus politics plus zombies!). Best book I've read so far in 2010, and it was released in paperback.

  8. Don't know about bookshops in Penzance; when I was on vacation in Fallmouth some years ago I found two lovely second hand bookshops but who knows if they're still there and it's a 1 hour drive anyway and it's not like they're the end of the world special.

    If you've never been to Mawnan Parish and got a day free in your schedule, you should definitely take the time to visit one the gardens (Trebah or Glendurgan for instance) because they're just plain magical this time of year and no this has nothing to do with books except there are trees and that's what books are made of.

  9. Book: _King Solomon's Mines_ by H. Rider Haggard.

  10. Arrr! I won't rain, my luvly.

    I wish I could help with specifics for these places, but I've only been there once. St Ives will be crowded if (WHEN) it's sunny, but there are lots of arty types about so wonky-windowed second hand bookshops won't be far away.

    Have a nice time!

    For the plane? How about The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein? yeah, I know you've read it already.

  11. Have a lovely time in the UK...This will be my first year in the recent past to not get a trip in. :( I hope you have a lovely time...Eat some scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream for me.

  12. It's actually been wonderfully hot and sunny in the UK this week, Penzance and St. Ives will be beautiful! Make sure you visit the Tate Museum St. Ives and Barbara Hepworth's (the sculptor's) house and studio. There might be a lack of double-decker buses in Cornwall though - take a trip up to London and I'll introduce you to lots of UK publishing types and we can discuss The State of Publishing in Great Britain and The US. (I'm serious about this, get in touch!)

    As for books... what about Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, if you're into post-apocalyptic-type stories? OR for something very British, anything by Sebastian Faulks - Birdsong, Charlotte Gray, or Engleby - the first two are nice and chunky for a 7 hour flight!

    Have a safe trip!


  13. I feel obliged to inform you that double decker buses are extremely infrequent (read nonexistent) outside London (so you don't wait in the rain for one to come, because it won't and it totally WILL rain, probably the entire time)...

    1) Les Miserables (totally worth another read, plus it is long and it's a long flight and maybe you'll sit next to someone who is french who will tell you all about the fun play-on-words that don't translate into English. If this happens you will have fulfilled one of my dreams).

    2-3) Okay, I've only been to Penzance and St. Ives once and all I remember was that it was pretty but it rained and was cold. BUT...if you do stop buy London (to see a double decker bus) I can suggest amazing book shops and will make you a cup of tea myself.

  14. Just finished Dara Horn's All Other Nights, about a Jewish Union soldier in the Civil War. The book opens on Passover 1862, as he is sent to murder his uncle in New Orleans. His next assignment is to marry a Confederate spy. Would be a great read on the plane!

    Alas, I know of no one with whom to take tea. But if you get to London, the one at the Orangery at Kensington is lovely. Have fun, and know I am envious.

  15. I took VALLEY OF THE DOLLS with me on my recent trip. It's light and sort of hilarious (in that you are reading about 1970s newly sexualized women). I haven't reached the pill popping parts yet, but the book is important for it's pop culture relevance if nothing else.

  16. some advice:

    1) it rains a lot in Cornwall, take waterproof clothing. Also take warm clothing - it can get cold, even in July (but it can also get hot, so take layers).
    2) It's St. Ives, not Saint Ives and you pronounce it "Sint Ives" - or the locals will laugh at you (well, they will anyway, but they'll laugh at you more!)
    3) Penzance is a long way away - 5 to 6 hours from London. Cornwall is not a cosmopolitan place. This is not a criticism, it's absolutely beautiful (when it's not raining) - but you're not going to get a decaf soy latte there.
    4) You can get to the Isles of Scilly (pronounced 'Silly') from Penzance - by ferry or helicopter - and you should, they're beautiful.
    5) Cornwall also is very beautiful - try walking some of the coastal path while you're there (preferably when it's not raining).
    6) Try a Cornish pasty whilst you're there (though be warned they're about 2000 calories each, I'm not exaggerating!) Get local advice on the best ones.
    7) While you're in St. Ives go to the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden - she was a great sculptor and the garden's a really cool way of showing her work
    8) The Tate Modern at St Ives will probably be a disappointment (unless you're really into obscure modern art)
    9) The best fish and chips are at Rick Stein's take away in Padstow (worth a visit)
    10) You can get to Truro by train from Penzance (the Cornish bus service is also a good way to get around) - the Cathedral's worth a visit
    11) If you have time, Eden Place near St Austell is worth a visit.
    12) Drink the local beer (from St Austell brewery)
    13) Beware of the local cider - cider in the UK is alcoholic and Cornish cider is very alcoholic!
    14) Have a curry - but ask local advice on where to get one, quality varies greatly
    15) As for bookshops - you'll find a couple of local independents in both Penzance and St Ives, but for my money the best independent bookstore in the UK is in London - it's called Foyles, it's huge, with the most amazing stock (don't just explore the first floor, where the fiction is, go up and look at the non-fiction too, they stock just about every subject you can think of) - worth staying in London a couple of days either on your way to or from Cornwall, just to do that!
    16) Read Daphne Du Maurier on the plane, a lot of her stuff is based in Cornwall (particularly Jamaica Inn). Also read (if you can get them) any of W.J Burley's Wycliffe series - it's a detective series set in Cornwall

  17. Sadly I've never been out of the US or even across it so I can't help you with things that exist in the (probably mythological) land of Penzance. The only advice I can offer is to avoid Modern Major Generals as they are notorious for breaking into song with little to provocation.

  18. Books to read on the plane:
    Cruddy, by Lynda Barry, because it's heartbreaking and funny at the same time. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman, because it's awesome and very englishy. Blood Sport, by Robert F. Jones, because it's the best book you've probably never heard of, and if one of those hoity toity South American writers had written it, it would be a classic.

  19. I think Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens" is a great plane book. It's extremely British, too, so maybe it will get you into the English mood. And it is absolutely hilarious.

    Unfortunately I lived in London, not Penzance, so can't help you with #2 or 3! Cornwall is gorgeous, though, so I am crazy jealous.

  20. The Truth About Delilah Blue, by Tish Cohen. A lot of people are still raving over Stieg Larsson. Doesn't interest me, but I've been wrong before.

  21. Sounds like super awesome fun! Do you have a kindle? That's all I can recommend, if you don't have a kindle, go get one -- they're best for travel reading!

  22. Does the Intern like science fiction? If so, I might recommend "Glasshouse" by Charles Stross. Perfect plot-driven plane reading with lots of great tech-y details that are not too detailed (the perfect sci-fi balance). If your fancy is steampunk, I would wholeheartedly recommend "Boneshaker" by Cherie Priest. And even if your thing is not steampunk, this is good plane reading. Intelligent but action-packed, just the thing to distract you from your time in the flying metal tube.

  23. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (937 pages - good for a long flight) perfect example of that rare genre Literary/Commercial.

    I know of no pirates, writers or otherwise.

    Penzance? Seriously!? Really!?

  24. SO EXCITED!!!

    Ella, INTERN would love to meet some UK publishing folk if she makes it to London...send INTERN an e-mail perhaps? internspills [@] gmail

  25. Read Fingersmith by Sarah Walker. You really have to read an English book. I love Cornwall, I'm heading down there in August. My cousin lives in a tiny village on the coast near Falmouth. I'm going down for a week of sailing and long walks :) She is not a pirate but she has recently written a children's book about foxes.
    Oh and while your there you have to try Cornish Ice cream! Made from clotted cream, it's even better than Italian Ice cream.
    Oh and it's St Ives rather than Saint Ives. lol :D

  26. You've gotten a lot of good suggestions already (Book Thief omg), but I want to add! I recently discovered and subsequently fell in love with John Green, author of Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and so much more. I've only read the first two (okay, well, I'm halfway through Paper Towns), but it's awesome. And I normally hate first-person narration and present-tense settings. But his books rock with the magic fairy dust of awesomeness.

  27. What a great trip! Fair warning- my airplane reading taste is not, repeat not, highbrow. Daphne du Maurier, obviously. Maybe a little Elizabeth Goudge or even Rosamund Pilcher. All write about Cornwall.

    But for sheer readability, the latest Jaclyn Moriarty is pretty amazing.

  28. Carpe Diem, by Autumn Cornwell. Obsessively organized girl's obsessively organized parents get blackmailed by boho granny to let girl spend the summer in southeast asia with said boho granny for the summer. Good stuff.

  29. As I stuff myself into your largest suitcase (LOL) I will vote to take along an ereader. Having around 250 books at your fingertips on a long flight has its advantages.

    Have a safe trip!

  30. For the plane home, I vote "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulks, or "Lady Chatterly's Lover" by D. H. Lawrence.